Jeremy and I first met at a bus stop halfway to Chartwell last year, a month after the Six Year Relationship officially ended.
The Six Year Relationship Man had moved on from me almost straight away (men: how do you do this?! I want to know your #malelifehacks), and I’d spent the last two weeks or so coming to terms with the fact that he was most certainly not pining after me.
Or if he was still thinking of me, he was doing so in a most unconventional way: head cradled safely in the bosom of one of his ex-students at Ann Park on a Saturday afternoon –an image now burned forever into my retinas.
When the relationship ended, I got the flat and he got the car. I thought I got the better end of the deal, having to car hunt rather than flat hunt.
But he’d outsmarted me, as usual. He saw the car as an opportunity for mobility and a roof over his head (again, #malelifehacks). Meanwhile, I was stuck re-learning how to use public transport.
Not being able to tell difference between buses in Hamilton proved to be a bit of an issue in the early days. For example, I once tried to get on an Intercity bus to take me from the CBD to Rototuna and narrowly missed ending up in Rotorua, and only because they wouldn’t accept my $5 note as sufficient ticket money.
On the day that I met Jeremy, I was struggling under the weight of a flimsy cardboard box containing roughly 60 lemons from my tree at home, for a friend’s café a couple of bus stops away.
My Long March to the bus stop was made even more cumbersome by the scratchy wool of my tights and the totally walking-inappropriate heels I had chosen to wear. And twice, wayward fruit had fallen out of the box and rolled onto the path of oncoming cars.
To make matters worse, after a 20-minute wait for the bus, I climbed aboard only to climb right back down, having realised that I had left my wallet at home.
Jeremy arrived at the bus stop just in time to witness my grand exit from the bus made even grander by the flimsy cardboard box finally giving up under the weight of the lemons, and a rush of yellow fruit cascading out from underneath my arms.
Hot, itchy and totally humiliated, the irony of life handing me lemons wasn’t lost on me, and Jeremy’s uncontrollable laughter –at what must have been a ridiculous sight –only served to add to my mortification.
Jeremy was an aspiring artist who was slowly getting recognition on the Hamilton pop-up gallery circuit.
From the double-denim and combat boots, to the hair flopping casually over one eye, to the unmistakeable fact that he was at least half a decade younger me, he was the furthest possible from the Six Year Relationship Man.
We exchanged life stories while walking back to my place: an unexpected turn of events that occurred as he very gallantly chose to forgo the waiting bus in favour of helping me salvage the scattered lemons (the remaining few that hadn’t turned to pulp under the wheels of passing cars) and carry them back to the flat so I could retrieve my wallet for the bus.
We never did return with my wallet.
The one glass of thank-you-for-rescuing-me wine turned into two, and then I lost count. We were sitting, curled up on either end of my two-seater couch, knees lightly touching, and I found myself laughing for the first time in what felt like months.
I want to say we had a deep and meaningful conversation about our hopes and dreams, but mostly he teased me about dropping my lemons.
When he leaned over and kissed me, I didn’t object.
And I certainly didn’t object to re-christening the couch. It was the very first piece of furniture that Six Year Relationship Man and I had bought together when we moved into the flat, and this was the next-best thing to setting it on fire.
In fact, every piece of furniture that would take our collective weight (and some that clearly didn’t) experienced rebirth of Evangelical proportions that evening.
We only stopped for food. Jeremy took a quick look into my poorly-stocked pantry, and whipped up a simple but delicious meal of spaghetti and chorizo. I tried to make myself useful by doing something interesting with puff pastry, but in the end I could only provide value by washing and shredding some lettuce to go on the side of Jeremy’s creation.
I woke up the next morning as the sun was coming up. Jeremy was gone.
On my bedside table, tucked under my alarm clock was a note.
I had a great time K (I don’t know how to spell your name !). I’m leaving for London in two days to be with my girlfriend. I’ll look you up if I ever come back.
I’m glad you dropped your lemons yesterday.
What just happened?
To be continued…